Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Persian Letters

A Morbid Wedding

Students at Sharif University in Tehran protested against the burial of war dead on their campus in 2006.
Students at Sharif University in Tehran protested against the burial of war dead on their campus in 2006.
A video is making the rounds of a report aired on Iranian state television in which young Iranians have been encouraged to marry at the graves of the soldiers killed during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

The report shows a young couple who are said to be students having their wedding ceremony at the grave of "unknown martyrs" from the Iraq-Iran War who are buried at Tehran University.

The groom says he decided to hold his wedding at the university because its the source of science, and next to the "martyrs" because they're the "symbols of resistance." The bride says she hopes to follow their path.

The head of the university, who is also attending the wedding, says he hopes the event will mark a beginning for other students to also start their new life at the same location. The TV reporter says the "martyrs" were witness to the "divine" wedding of the two students.

The burial of remains of soldiers killed during the Iran-Iraq War at universities became a trend following the election of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in 2005. Many students protested against the move and said that while they had great respect for those who lost their lives fighting for their country, they believe universities should not become cemeteries.

Ahmadinejad, who was Tehran's mayor before becoming president, had suggested that war dead be buried at some of the capital's squares.

For years, Iran has been using "war martyrs" for propaganda purposes while allegedly paying little attention to the plight of those who served at the front and survived.

Many streets in Iran are named after members of the Revolutionary Guard and soldiers killed during the war, and Tehran and other cities are filled with their portraits and quotes.

Those who were reportedly killed in the postelection crackdown by security forces are also described as martyrs by the opposition. But these "Green martyrs" are not officially recognized by the government, which tries either to ignore them or to portray them as "rioters" and anti-Iranian agents.

While Iranians are encouraged to honor the memory of the "war martyrs" and their sacrifice for their country, they've been harassed or prevented from visiting the graves of the "Green martyrs" to honor their memory."

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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Seen anything in the Iranian blogosphere that you think Persian Letters should cover? If so, contact Golnaz Esfandiari at esfandiarig@rferl.org

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